SAN ANTONIO 108, LAKERS 105: Same old story for Lakers - LA Daily News SAN ANTONIO 108, LAKERS 105: Same old story for Lakers L.A. keeps contest vs. Spurs close, but it drops fifth straight game anyway.
By Mark Medina, Staff Writer
SAN ANTONIO - No matter how much the Lakers scratch and claw out of the deep hole they dug themselves, they keep falling further into the abyss.
The Lakers persistently chipped away at double-digit leads, only for missed 3-pointers from Kobe Bryant and Earl Clark on the final possession cementing a 108-105 loss Wednesday to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center.
The Lakers played well enough to keep the game competitive against the Western Conference's third-best team despite missing Dwight Howard (right shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (left hip) for the second consecutive game.
Too bad. The lack of depth eventually exposed the Lakers (15-20), who dropped their fifth consecutive game, the first time such a stretch has happened since April 2011. They're also 5-12 on the road and 1-4 on the second night of a road back-to-back.
The Lakers are left with an even more difficult task in climbing out of 11th place in the Western Conference. To prevent losing six consecutive games for the first time since March 2007, the Lakers will have to win their home game Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder (27-8).
"It's a team that is getting some traction," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of his squad. "But we're a long ways away to smile.
"We don't need to until we can start a little bit better."
It appeared the Lakers wouldn't even have a chance to gush about a moral victory, something almost unheard
of in this organization. They allowed San Antonio to build consistent double-digit leads after allowing the Spurs to go 12 of 25 from 3-point range.
Bryant, most notably, rarely rotated quickly enough on defense.
"We just got to work on our execution," said Bryant, after posting 27 points on 10-of-24 shooting. "We need to keep the guys off the paint and keep them off the middle."
Regardless, the Lakers found themselves in the game for two reasons.
The Lakers made shots. Steve Nash made two technical free throws, Bryant made a 3-pointer and Antawn Jamison made an open layup to cut the deficit to 105-102 with 2:56 remaining.
The team also made stops. Metta World Peace forced two consecutive turnovers and the Spurs also missed their next three shots.
Manu Ginobili's 3-pointer appeared to put the game away with a 108-102 lead with 43 seconds left, but Clark immediately answered with his own 3-pointer. Tony Parker's bad pass on the next possession then set up the Lakers with a chance to tie the game.
It didn't happen.
Bryant's 3-point attempt went off the rim. Clark grabbed the rebound and heaved the ball from behind the perimeter. The attempt fell short.
"I was looking for Steve and Kobe, but I didn't see how much time was on the clock," said Clark, who posted a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes. "So I threw it up and prayed it went in."
It appeared the Lakers didn't have a prayer at all.
They showed constant frustration by collecting three technical fouls spread among Bryant, Darius Morris and Chris Duhon.
The Lakers chipped away at their deficit by making a flurry of shots, mostly by Bryant, Clark, World Peace (23 points) and Nash (14 points). The Lakers then conceded wide open 3-pointers. The Lakers lathered, rinsed and repeated.
They also remained underwhelmed against a team that featured Parker (24 points), Ginobili (19), Stephen Jackson (14), Tiago Splitter (14), Gary Neal (12) and Kawhi Leonard (11).
"Guys did a great job of staying positive and fighting together and not giving in," Nash said. "It was a lot of good things out there. But it's definitely a frustrating loss."